Upon which point will a child have endured enough abuse for the DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) to finally step in? Is it when a child is on the verge of death? Or, is it when other people start to see the extremities of wounds on the child? It is disappointing to see that DCFS does not put effort into the children of our generation. When will we see change?
A Utah family vlogger by the name of Ruby Franke was arrested on Aug. 30 after her youngest son, Russell, escaped from her colleague Jodi Hildebrandt’s home through a window to a nearby neighbor’s house. The 12-year-old was emaciated with duct tape marks on his ankles and wrists, and the sight brought the neighbor to tears while on the phone with Utah police after he had realized Russell had been held captive.
The Youtube channel, 8 Passengers, was started in 2015 with the main purpose of documenting the six children’s lives whom Ruby and Kevin shared. Though, the theywere no stranger to controversy in the media.
Many fans grew worried over Franke’s strict parenting ideas from the get-go. In fact, petitions demanding that the children be checked on by DCFS began to flourish after they sent their oldest son to the wilderness camp Anasazi, despite the horrific stories victims came out of the program with. They also became concerned for the children’s health after it was said in multiple videos that Ruby would take away their food, stating that it was, “A privilege to eat.”
The 8 passengers were your average family vloggers who everyone seemed to enjoy watching in their early years. That was until Ruby joined a parent counseling program called Connexions run by Therapist Jodi Hildebrandt. After joining Hildebrandt, things seemed to go downhill for the family as Ruby quit Youtube in 2022 and fully emerged herself into the Connexions ideology, later creating a podcast with Jodi. Quickly after, Ruby’s husband Kevin was separated from the family after having enough of Hildebrandt’s manipulation, losing all connections with the children for 13 months. Ruby moved into Hildebrandt’s Irvins, Utah home with her four children as her two oldest moved out and the rest was chaos.
Utah police were said to have been called on the Franke’s over a dozen times to both their homes, though DCFS only visited on four occasions from 2022 to 2023. If only they could see what these children were really going through instead of listening to the parents. The consistent evidence was there being held before everyone but DCFS chose to remain blind while these children were being stripped of their childhood from the abuse, and for profit.
As the shortage of CPS workers arises, the more children become neglected in the system. Not only that but the more caseworkers a child might be assigned, the longer they remain under CPS care. Although CPS workers have filed complaints about the low pay and high numbers of cases being unmanageable, CPS has chosen to ignore the many underlined issues. In 2019, studies showed that 1840 children died from abuse or neglect. More than one third of the fatalities had a shocking one time contact with CPS within 5 years of their death. In the event where a child desperately needed help, only 22.9% of victims were removed from their home and placed into foster care services.
In a perfect world, children experiencing neglect and abuse would be immediately removed from their homes and moved to places where they would be safe. However, in today’s society it is just not possible. The conflict it would bring to a child would be too much trauma to endure and moving them out of their guardians home is legally very difficult in the court system.
Gabriel Fernandez was an example of DCFS failing children. Fernandez was only 8 when he was murdered after 8 months of excruciating abuse enacted by his mother and her boyfriend in 2013. He had people who wanted to help and did call DCFS on the family, though visits only induced more abuse on Gabriel. DCFS saw the wounds and black eyes on the child yet refused to take him to a hospital that was associated with DCFS to understand how bad he was being treated. Believing the lies of Fernandez’s mother was the first mistake the people Gabriel needed most could make. If they just cared an ounce more, maybe Gabriel would be alive today, alive to watch himself turn 18.
DCFS should take responsibility for the children they have failed in the system. Children should not have to be afraid of the people they look for comfort in abusing them nor neglecting their needs. When is it enough? Our society is in constant need of change and as it evolves, the child protective services fall backwards leaving these poor children lost in fear. I expect to see change in our government in the near future. It is long awaited that children can actually rely on someone to save them from these indescribable circumstances.